$1M grant ‘a big step into the future’ for New Bedford waterfront

Posted Feb 13, 2018 at 5:30 PM

A $1 million grant awarded Tuesday will make life on the waterfront a little easier for New Bedford’s Police and Fire Departments as well as the Harbor Development Commission.

The Seaport Economic Council approved the grant, which will help the city build a 2,745-square-foot Central Command Center on City Pier 3 for the three departments.

“This is really, really critical,” Executive Director of the HDC Ed Anthes Washburn said. “Right now our operations are spread (out).”

Currently, the HDC is housed in the Wharfinger Building, with two assistant harbormasters located at Popes Island. New Bedford police marine unit is based in a small building near the Wharfinger Building, while firefighters are located on Pleasant Street.

The application for the grant stated the building would offer office space for HDC staff, space for police and fire as well as response and training rooms to provide streamlined communication among the three units during daily port operations and emergencies.

“By being able to pool everyone together and put them into one command center, the collaboration becomes very effective,” Police Chief Joe Cordeiro said. “It enables us to expand and share technology. It’s all in one center.”

Anthes Washburn pointed to the recent sinkings of the fishing vessels Nemesis and Dinah Jane as an example of how a Command Center is beneficial. While each arm of the city responded separately, if they were under one roof, the response would allow for a quicker reaction.

“This will get us much closer to our response assets,” Fire Chief Michael Gomes said. “And having the police marine security unit, the port authority, and the assistant harbormasters all in the same building and in same place will increase coordination.”

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration awarded a total of $4.1 million to five marine infrastructure projects through the Seaport Economic Council. Mayor Jon Mitchell is a member of the council.

“The Seaport Economic Council is committed to helping communities effectively leverage their maritime resources, to create new opportunities for residents, tourists and businesses,” said Carolyn Kirk, the deputy secretary of Housing and Economic Development and vice-chair of the Seaport Economic Council.

The Harbor Development Commission stated it had outgrown its current building. Space will also be offered to state and federal authorities, like the Environmental Police and Coast Guard, if needed.

The new building will offer ample room for the HDC, police and fire to hold joint meetings, which wouldn’t be new, but are currently held in cramped space.

The $1 million grant will cover the majority of cost. The HDC will provide the remaining funds, which are yet to be determined, but Anthes Washburn said it would be at least $250,000.

The goal, he said, is to complete construction in June 2019.

“We really need a place to effectively manage traffic and manage the operations of a port like this,” Anthes Washburn said. “This grant from the seaport council is huge in having the port itself take a big step into the future.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original story here.

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